World

HK police defuse two nail bombs in school

Investigations ongoing into whether homemade devices are linked to unrest

HONG KONG Hong Kong police said they defused two homemade nail bombs discovered in the grounds of a school, and are investigating whether the devices were linked to political unrest in the city.

Bomb disposal officers rushed to Wah Yan College in Wanchai district after a janitor noticed the devices, police said.

"The bombs were complete, fully functional and ready to be used," senior bomb disposal officer Alick McWhirter told reporters on Monday night.

Mr McWhirter said the two devices contained a total of 10kg of high explosives and that the remote control bombs were designed to be set off using a mobile phone.

Nails had been added to the bombs, which used a homemade ammonium nitrate-based explosive to increase their destructiveness.

"Both of these devices have only one function, to kill and to maim people," he said.

Police said they believed the college was not the target for the bomb maker and that the devices were likely being hidden there for later use.

The discovery comes with Hong Kong engulfed by six months of sometimes violent protests - although the last three weeks have seen a significant drop-off in clashes and a massive largely peaceful march on Sunday.

Hardline protesters have used bricks, petrol bombs and even bows and arrows in their weekly confrontations with police, who have fired nearly 16,000 rounds of tear gas and 10,000 rubber bullets.

Three protesters have been shot with live rounds but all have survived their injuries.

The discovery of a bomb came a day after police said a semi-automatic pistol and more than 100 rounds of ammunition were discovered in a raid on protesters.

Five people in their early 20s appeared in court on Monday charged with intent to wound and were denied bail.

Two were also charged with unlawful possession of a firearm.

NO MORE CONCESSIONS

In a separate development, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam yesterday ruled out further concessions to the city's pro-democracy movement ahead of her weekend visit to Beijing, despite a recent landslide election defeat for the government.

An end to violence is something the city's pro-Beijing leadership has insisted must be a precursor to meaningful dialogue - but in her weekly press conference yesterday Ms Lam refused to accept protesters' demands.

"If a particular demand requires us to deviate from the law... I could not agree to accept those demands simply for the purpose of reaching people's aspirations."

Ms Lam argued that an amnesty for those arrested - more than 6,000 people since June, 40 per cent of them students - would violate the spirit of the rule of law.

"How can we completely ignore the rule of law just to fulfil the demands... So we have no way to make the response, but we are still willing to examine the social problems reflected by this incident in hope of relieving residents' grievance," she added. - AFP

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